Burned out on learning

I’ve been “a guy who reads a lot of work books” for years now. Then a couple months ago, we had my buddy Mark on the podcast. At around the 1:01:00 point, he said this:

Do you think you read too many books about being a manager? Is it possible to read so many management books that you just get inside your own head?

All these books have a lot of overlap and a lot of differences, and to have all that twirling around in your head when a direct comes to you for help…I could see that being hard.

My butthead friend Mark

I’ve thought a lot about that since then, and he’s right. Jerk.

In the past few months, work related books became a source of stress instead of a source of inspiration or guidance. I crossed the threshold of “these books are helping me be a better manager” into “these books are making me a more stressed out manager.” Reading work related books was no longer a HELL YEAH for me.

Then I read this post which suggests doing instead of learning and talks about learning addiction.

You can be in the back seat and travel to a place a hundred times. But until you take the driver’s seat you’ll never know the way. You’ve got to at one point stop taking directions and just go. Magic happens when you get your hands dirty.

Nash Veil

It all clicked: I was learning faster than I was doing. So the learning was giving me diminishing returns on growth, and increasing returns on stress.

A few days later, I read this quote in a (non-work-related) book called Reasons To Stay Alive:

People place so much value on thought, but feeling is as essential. I want to read books that make me laugh and cry and fear and hope and punch the air in triumph. I want a book to hug me or grab me by the scruff of my neck. I don’t even mind if it punches me in the gut. Because we are here to feel.

I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt.

Matt Haig

There it is. Learning is thinking, and I want to do a little less thinking and a little more feeling for a while.

So I’m doing a month-long learning reset. That means:

  • No work related books
  • No newsletters
  • No work related blog posts/articles (unless someone I know tells me to read it)
  • No checking Hacker News

It’s been refreshing so far. I’ll check back in a month and see how it’s going.

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